I am not sure that a return to New Labour is the response to the defeat last Thursday. Will a turn to the centre restore the faith of voters who have chosen nationalist parties such as UKIP and the SNP in working class districts? In centre left parties there are always more moderate and more radical components, and in modern societies the most logical outcome is a permanently negotiated balance between the different factions. I don’t think that will substantially change in the UK. But what Labour needs desperately is to openly discuss an institutional project that gives coherence to the internal arrangements between nations in the UK and to its relationship with the European Union. Chuka Umunna, perhaps the British Obama, seems to agree. So do intellectuals and journalists of the calibre of Timothy Garton Ash (as well as Will Hutton or Phil Stephens), who has made a number of proposals towards a “Federal Kingdom” to conclude that “All this is inseparable from the matter of Europe. After all, the essential British argument over the EU is about who does what at what level. That’s what people will be looking at in the probably paltry results of Cameron’s self-styled renegotiation with Brussels. But another word for such multi-layered arrangements is, precisely, federalism.”
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